“Identify your dreams and work backwards, using milestones to track and celebrate your progress. Progress doesn’t have to be becoming the best, but simply by becoming better. Better today, than you were yesterday and better tomorrow, than you are today.”
This is an excerpt from my Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine Lay View and it will guide me on my journey from Fatman to Ironman
These words were original spoken by Frank Dick OBE. As the President of the European Athletics Coaches Association and one the world’s top sport coaches, he knows a thing or two about training great athletes.
I am not nor never will be a great athlete, but my dream, as revealed in Man V Fat, is to be an Ironman, even if it does take me the full 16hrs and 10 minutes allowed (although I do hope to complete it a little faster) to complete it.
With the Kona Ironman 2016 World Championships happening as I type, it seems as good a time as any to lay down my plan for Ironman 2018.
Before anything else, I have to decide on an event. Ironman is a truly global event, but as I am fundraising for Cancer Research, I wanted to minimise costs, so I first looked for events in the UK.
Unfortunately, the UK options are Bolton and Wales and while I have nothing against either location, I am from Glasgow and the prospect of competing in the rain isn’t appealing. I may come across as a fair weather athlete, but my fellow Glaswegians (especially Travis) and anyone in Manchester and Cardiff will understand my desire to avoid the rain. So somewhere with some sun and warm water would be nice.
I am not expecting an invitation to Kona, anytime soon, and while a return to Noosa, Queensland in October 2018 would be wonderful, I have to look closer to home and Europe. In addition to warm water. I would like somewhere nice to celebrate and recover.
Everything points to the wonderful island of Mallorca in September 2018 as being my final destination.
The run route is relatively flat (and lined with palm trees!!); the swim, in the Mediterranean is both seawater (i.e floaty) and relatively calm (and warm), while the cycle contains some amazing switchback roads and a wonderful backdrop.
Mallorca is a popular base for triathlon training and I might need to arrange a wee reconnaissance visit to the island and sample some cycling on these awesome roads.
With Ironman Mallorca normally held in late September, I have approximately two years to prepare. No, that doesn’t mean twenty months to procrastinate about my preparations and then four months of panicking about the lack of them, it means twenty-four months of discipline, determination and dedication.
The three “D’s” that help make so many East African runners so successful.
It isn’t their DNA, their diet or the altitude, it is their attitude that makes them winners and I have to adopt it.
The countdown to Mallorca starts now and I cannot lose focus. The past two weeks have seen my training stutter as I have been sitting an exam and caring for my mum. As I type this, I recognise the need to decide upon a plan and stick to it.
So having identified my dream, it is time to work backwards. I reckon that my milestones should be at least one Olympic Triathlon, a Sprint and possibly some Duathlons, Open Swimming and Cycling events
However, If I am honest, I don’t actually have any idea what it takes to prepare for a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile cycle and 26.2 mile run, especially as I am not the greatest swimmer or the most confident of cyclists. At the moment, I am not even a competent runner.
I’ve done some Internet searching and the general consensus is that two years should be enough time for me to prepare. However, I will seek support from the experts at Triathlon Scotland and from Ironmen (and women) such as Mark Russell and Team GB Athlete Anna Symms. Both have generously offered to guide me and help prepare a proper schedule. One that will prepare me for the greatest challenge of my life, but one which will also recognise that I have others roles and responsibilities that present their own challenges.
There will be no intense or special training for me, just a consistent approach to being better tomorrow, than I am today.
And regardless of my training and event schedule, there are some essential milestones that I need and want to achieve:
- I want to lose at least five stones of fat. I am currently sitting at 250lbs and having been 180lbs in 2012, it is a good weight for me and hopefully I won’t look too ridiculous in a tri-suit.
- I also want to build more muscle. Ironman is an endurance sport and I need to be both physically and mentally strong.
- I need to learn to swim and swim well. Currently, the 2.4 mile swim is the most daunting aspect of the Ironman for me and it will possibly make me or break me.
- I need to master the art of the transition and learn the rules of triathlon. I won’t be trying to beat the Brownlee Brothers, but I do not want to attract any unneeded time penalties.
- I need to remember to book a place. Ironmen events are becoming even more and more popular and they sell out almost as quickly as they open.
- I need to raise as much as possible for Cancer Research and everyone can contribute here at Stephen’s Ironman 2018 Challenge for Cancer Research.
- Finally, I also want to raise more awareness of the links between obesity and cancer. Too many of us believe that we are fit and fat and fail to understand the real danger that carrying extra weight can bring. Hopefully my efforts will inspire more to follow their dreams.
So, Mallorca Ironman 2018 is the dream and there will be many milestones to achieve and many barriers to overcome. It will not be easy and it will not be something that I will take lightly. There is much to do and I hope that you will continue to follow my progress here and at Man V Fat.
And remember, anything is possible.